Burning incense has been a tradition in Asian cultures for thousands of years. The practice has a variety of purposes – medicinal, religious and ceremonial among them. For centuries, artisans have made vessels, or censers, to hold and burn the incense. Antique censers can be quite large while others are small and portable. All censers were made of materials that would not burn, most notably iron, bronze or porcelain. They could be simple bowls or elaborate boxes with dragon or nature motifs. Others were made in the shapes of animals or mythical creatures.
Antique censers have become works of art and are collected all over the world. In our gallery today we have a 19th century Japanese bronze duck incense burner (pictured) and a Japanese Satsuma incense vase with silver lid and floral motif from about 1890.